Words Matter: Preferred Language For Talking About Addiction
Addiction is a chronic but treatable medical condition. Often unintentionally, many people still talk about addiction in ways that are stigmatizingmeaning they use words that can portray someone with a substance use disorder in a shameful or negative way and may prevent them from seeking treatment.9 With simple changes in language harmful stigma and negativity around SUD can be reduced or avoided. Read on to learn more about what stigma is, how it affects people with SUD, and how you can help make a change.
Concerned About A Friend
Drugs can be a hard subject to discuss, especially if you think your friend or relative has a problem.
Try to stay open-minded and remember that, with the right help and support, most people overcome their use before any serious harm is caused. Also, even if you do offer support, they might not change their behaviour.
You or your friend can call FRANK anytime on for confidential advice.
Dont: Violate Their Privacy
In taking care of yourself and attending therapy, you may be tempted to vent about your loved one with an addiction. While you should be as honest about your feelings as possible when getting therapy, its important to respect their privacy. This is especially relevant when discussing someone with addiction with friends or family.
Make sure the person is okay being talked about and having their struggles discussed. If you attend counseling with your loved one, make sure you dont reveal what was said in session to others. If your loved one attends therapy or counseling on their own and dont want to discuss what they talked about in session, respect that and dont push them for details.
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How To Talk To Drug Addicted Son
Addiction to drugs and substances has long been considered a disease. Although addiction is a complex chronic disease, there are still many myths and stigma surrounding it. It makes reaching out to a loved one a challenge. While addiction does not choose its victim regardless of age, sex, or economic background, it is generally more prevalent among males than females. If you are worried about communicating properly, this article will help you know more about how to talk to a drug-addicted son.
How To Talk To Drug Addicted Son
Will My Friend Get Into Trouble
If your friend needs medical help either from a clinic or an ambulance its essential that you tell the people helping everything you know about the drugs theyve taken.
And if you have any drugs left, hand them over to the medics as it may help them understand the problem.
They won’t tell the police and you wont get into trouble.
If your friend is caught with drugs, they might get into trouble. They might get a warning, an arrest, a formal caution or a conviction. This will depend on the drugs theyre caught with and what theyre doing with them.
If your friend is caught with drugs at school or university they might get into trouble there too. Getting caught with drugs in school or uni can lead to suspension or expulsion, and to the police getting involved.
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How Racism And Addiction Play Into Language
Arthur*, a former heroin user, also shared his thoughts on the language surrounding addiction. I have more respect for dope fiends, he says, explaining that its a hard road to travel and understand if you havent gone through it yourself.
He also alludes to racism in addiction language, too that people of color are painted as addicted to dirty street drugs, versus white people dependent on clean prescription medications. People say, Im not addicted, Im dependent cause a doctor prescribed it, Arthur adds.
Perhaps its no coincidence that theres growing awareness and empathy now, as more and more white populations are developing dependency and addictions.
Empathy needs to be given to everyone no matter race, sexuality, income, or creed.
We should also aim to remove the terms clean and dirty altogether. These terms hold belittling moralistic notions that people with addictions were once not good enough but now that theyre in recovery and clean, theyre acceptable. People with addictions arent dirty if theyre still using or if a drug test comes back positive for use. People shouldnt have to describe themselves as clean to be considered human.
Dont say this: Are you clean?
Say this instead: How are you doing?
Just like with the use of the term junkie, some people with use disorders may use the term clean to describe their sobriety and recovery. Again, its not up to us to label them and their experience.
I Acknowledge Your Addiction
Most addicts try to hide their disease and go to great lengths to cover their tracks. Once the resulting damage begins to pile up, however, hiding an addiction becomes next to impossible.
Let your loved one know that youre concerned for his wellbeing and you recognize the signs of addiction. This opens the door for honest discussion. It also lifts a weight off your shoulders by acknowledging the elephant in the room.
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Addiction Etiquette A Simple Guide For People Who Dont Suffer From Addiction
Do encourage me to find professional treatment that is right for me the most important thing you can do for a loved one that is suffering from an addiction is to encourage them to find the help they so urgently need. Partner with them by offering to accompany them to an appointment at a local GP or independent caregiving service.
Do educate yourself about addiction before talking to me take the time to learn about the triggers, symptoms and signs of addiction. Being able to empathise with your loved one will help you to understand and talk to them in a positive way about their addiction and recovery options.
Do help me to set realistic boundaries and goals Although health care professionals should be where addicts go to for rehabilitation, you can help your loved one by partnering with caregivers to set boundaries and goals once they have been treated. Most rehabilitation services will offer support and guidance for family or close friends. Make sure to engage with this service so you can help your loved one have a better chance of a sustained recovery.
Do praise me when I achieve my goals but dont patronise Celebrate with your loved one when they meet a goal but remember that it is a constant struggle to achieve sustained rehabilitation. No goal is insignificant or small for a person who is dealing with addiction.
Look Into Professional Treatment And Drug Rehab Services For Them
Your loved one likely does not even know where to begin or what options are out there for them to get help.
In fact, it is likely they may not even want to hear about them. If they are not ready for a change, any option you present is likely to be shot down. If they are ready, it may seem simply too exhausting for them to have to research their options.
This is where you can be of service by seeing what is out there for treatment first, so you can make educated suggestions when the time is right. There are many methods of treatment, and it is important to keep this in mind before choosing a drug rehab facility to explore.
One of the more popular methods is the 12-step program. At Cirque Lodge, we believe every addiction and person is unique, and we tailor treatment accordingly. So while we are founded on the 12-steps, we also integrate effective forms of clinical therapies into a mind, body and spirit approach to help a person become healthy from the inside out. Understanding treatment approaches is the key to your loved one is success in that program.
Also, there is an alternative to helping someone who is in a downward spiral whom you believe must seek help very soon, whether they want to or not. This is what is called intervention. Interventions can require planning, because there are many layers to successfully staging it.
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What Should You Do In An Emergency
Does your loved one have any of the following symptoms? If so, call 911 or other emergency services immediately.
- Lost consciousness after taking drugs.
- Became unconscious after drinking alcohol, especially if five or more drinks were consumed in a short period of time.
- Had a seizure.
- Had been drinking and is seriously considering suicide.
- Has a history of heavy drinking and has severe withdrawal symptoms, such as confusion and severe trembling. Severe withdrawal symptoms, such as delirium tremens , can cause death.
Contact the helpline
How To Talk To Someone With An Addiction
Start by trying to talk to the person about their addiction. Having a one-on-one conversation may be less intimidating than staging an intervention with several people.
Find a time when you can be alone together and free of distractions or interruptions. Tell them that youre concerned about their behavior and ask if theyre open to hearing your thoughts. Try to use non-blaming language and avoid raising your voice or getting angry. They will likely respond better if you communicate from a place of compassionate concern. It may also help to talk about specific behaviors or incidents related to their addiction that have directly affected you.
If theyre receptive to hearing your thoughts and concerns, ask if they would be willing to seek professional help. They may not be open to discussing this option. They may become defensive. If this happens, let it go for the time being. Dont threaten or shame them. Instead, start talking with other family members and concerned parties to begin planning an intervention.
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Our Family Support Services
At Gladstones Clinic we understand the complexities of dealing with addiction. We have over 15 years of professional experience in helping people to deal with substance and alcohol abuse. We also understand the impact that addiction can have on families and friendships.
Gladstones Clinic is dedicated to working with families struggling with addiction. We have policies, practices and a residential rehab programme in place that both encourages family involvement in their loved ones recovery and also provides support and counselling to families who are struggling to cope themselves.
Why notcontact us today to find out more about our family support services.
Some Actions You Can Take:
- Read about the signs and symptoms of substance use.
- Observe the persons behavior closely over a period of days or weeks to understand what leads you to think there is a problem. This information will be good to have if you decide to talk with other family members about the situation, seek advice from a professional, or speak directly with the person. However, dont feel you need an exhaustive picture of the problem before.
- Contact a substance use professional, mental health professional, physician, employee assistance professional, guidance counselor, clergy or other helping professional to help you. Describe your family members substance use pattern to see whether the professional would deem it a problem. Provide details such as: type of alcohol or other drugs, how much the person is using, how often they are using, how long the pattern has continued, negative consequences, and the persons response to discussions or confrontations about substance use.
- Ensure that you and other family members are safe from potential physical or emotional harm. If there is a threat or possibility of physical violence, you should develop a safety plan.
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How To Talk To An Addict Who Has Relapsed
The trials faced by an addict in recovery are immense. The effects of the drugs are often long-term and the individual must go through this physically and mentally challenging phase in order to sustain sobriety.
In many cases, it is advised that the recovering addict surrounds themselves with the support of friends, family, and other groups for motivation and strength to overcome the trials of this phase. If a person experiences a relapse, it doesnt mean that the rehabilitation was not successful. It simply means that much more work needs to be done to ensure that triggers are kept at bay.
It is pertinent to note that the challenges of sobriety differ from one addict to the other, depending on their history and frequency of drug use.
Am I Overreacting To A Substance Use Problem
If you are noticing problems in friend or family members work, health, family, finances, relationships, social functioning, legal issues, self-esteem or self-respect, you are not overreacting.
Continuing to use substances in spite of the fact that such behavior is causing problems, is a problem in and of itself. It shows that substance use has become more important than the problems it causes. Someone who is unwilling to discuss the issue or consider whether there might be a problem is a strong indicator that a problem exists.
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What Warning Signs Have I Seen
There may be one particular incident that pushes you toward talking to your loved one about addiction. However, there have probably been many other signs often subtle youve noticed along the way. Indications of addiction to look for in your family member or friend include:
- Change in Appearance Is my normally well-dressed loved one neglecting their personal appearance?
- Health Issues Is my loved one suffering from new health issues?
- Altered Behavior Have I noticed major changes in how my loved one is acting?
- Different Spending Habits Has my loved one asked me for money without giving a reason?
- Issues at School or Work Does my loved one skip school or work frequently or have a dramatic change in performance?
You may not even know for sure that your loved one is using drugs, but these questions can help you determine if your spouse, family member or friend is using and trending toward addiction.
Listen More Than You Talk
An important part of communicating is listening to what the other person has to say. When someone with an addiction confides in you, try to listen without interrupting or criticizing. Even if you don’t agree with what they are saying, it’s important to withhold your judgment.
You also don’t have to make their addiction the main focus of every conversation you have with them.
You don’t want to make them feel like you’re checking up on them or assuming the worst about their condition.
Continue to ask them about their weekend plans or invite them to see a movie with you. Speak to them the same way you would if they didn’t have an addiction. Remember that they are still a person with likes, dislikes, opinions, and desires.
What are you doing? You’re not using again, are you? Why aren’t you calling me back?
Hey, do you have any plans this weekend? I would love to grab dinner if you’re free.
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Early Intervention Is Best
Intervening at an early stage is the most beneficial course of action for the addicted person. Like any illness, the condition responds best to treatment in the early stages. It is important not to simply ignore the problem until a major breaking point occurs. It is unlikely that the addict will seek help for their problem by themselves during this time, so your intervention is crucial.
In the workplace, the addictive behaviour of a colleague is often endured until they are fired or offered a redundancy package. This course of action will not help the individual, and instead they should be given the choice to access treatment in order to keep their job. The risk of long-term psychological damage, and irreversible harm to health, both increase the longer a problem is ignored. In Ireland, alcohol is implicated in over 1000 deaths per year.
What Addicts In Recovery Really Need: Positive Attitudes & Support Group Guidance
Its absolutely essential to rely on positive thoughts and encouragement when talking to those who have faced drug addiction. Its crucial that loved ones know what to ask and what not to talk about because this knowledge will empower them to serve as the best possible support system. If you dont know how to talk to someone about their drug addiction, then you may find yourself at a loss for words or saying the wrong thing.
ABTRS understands your worry and wants to help you through this.
In order to succeed in sobriety and achieve a better, happier and healthier lifestyle, a recovering addict will need a lot of resources, not only at their rehabilitation center but also within their group of family and friends. This is especially true for those who are parents or in a romantic relationship.
Oftentimes, partners and spouses have to cope with intense feelings of worry, distrust, anxiety and anger while the recovering patients are more likely to be striving for happiness and hope. This means that family and friends need to work through their feelings before talking or visiting their loved one because they need a pathway for clear communication.
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What To Ask Your Loved One In Recovery
Millions of Americans are affected by addiction every year addiction is a tricky disease, and it doesnt discriminate, causing heartbreak and hurt for so many families and friends. Its a fact of life that most of us will encounter addiction at some point, whether its our family or friend. This is a difficult journey to navigate for everyone involved, and its important to go into such a challenge with an open mind and willingness to listen and love.
If you are facing this situation, youll want to know how to best talk to a recovering addict. There are some things you should say and ask, while there are some questions you should avoid bringing up. Although this can be a tricky time for everyone, as emotionssuch as stress, frustration and disappointment run highits important to do your best to communicate in a healthy and open way, which will benefit both parties.
If youre struggling with this scenario and youre not sure where to start, take a look at some of these tips and suggestions on how to successfully communicate with an addict in recovery.
ABTRS wants to help you and your addicted loved one communicate better as your relationship becomes stronger and healthier.
What can you ask and not to ask your addicted loved one while they are in recovery without causing a relapse?